Revisited: Desk Lighting Project (v3)

For the past couple of years, I’ve been experimenting with adding LED lights to my desk. The first time, I basically scattered 5mm LEDs all over my desk. The second time, I used a decorative LED string of lights. Now, I’m onto 12v LED strips! For this revisit, my workstation next to my computer desk will also get some lighting too.

IMG_20160810_191527I took the switch enclosure and enlarged the hole to fit two new switches. I used hot glue to fill any gaps and black paint to make it blend with the color of the enclosure. There’s something about this process that’s just so satisfying!

IMG_20160811_154919The switches basically open and close the positive connections of the two LED strip segments. All of the grounds are connected together. It’s a very simple circuit that did not take very long to put together.

20160811_163944The longest part was organizing the cables and strips. The switch panel is in a lower position so it doesn’t exactly blend in quite as well as it did before. The reason that it’s so low is that the cord for the power supply is much shorter so it wouldn’t comfortably reach the power strip outlet.

20160811_163928 The LED strip is much brighter than any of my previous attempts at adding lights to this desk.

20160811_163936This is my workstation with the LED lighting. This has actually had the LED strip installed for a while now but I was using the lab power supply to power it, which was noisy. It had a hand in motivating me to get this project done.

20160811_172920My battlestation’s getting better.

Thanks for reading!


Desk Lighting Project v2.0

Two years ago, I hooked up some 5mm LEDs all around my desk to illuminate parts of it. Looking back at that set up, it looks very clumsily done. Now that I have better tools and materials (even some salvaged from other things!), I thought I’d give it another shot.


  • String of lights from a battery-operated product, which I had previously used in another project.
  • Switch, which was taken out of a broken power bar.
  • 5cm x 8cm x 3cm enclosure.
  • 5V 2A rated power supply.
  • 8-Ohm 1W resistor.
  • 22AWG solid-core wire.
  • Heat shrink.
  • Hot glue.

Putting It Together


The switch’s back measured roughly 26cm by 13cm so I drew the outline of it on a piece of paper and taped it on the box.


After locking the box into a vice, I drilled 1/8″ holes on the four corners… They weren’t exactly precise but it’ll work.


I then used my rotary tool with a cutting wheel attachment to cut out the rectangle. The excess material becomes brittle which makes it easy to clean up.


On one of the sides, I drilled two holes which the power supply and light wires would pass through.


I brought the box to my soldering station to put together the simple switch circuit inside of the box.


The switch interrupts/completes the positive connection. A resistor limits the current for the LEDs.


After soldering and shrinking the heat shrink tubing, I applied some hot glue to keep exposed connections insulated and in place.


I screwed in the back plate of the enclosure and then hot glued the box to the side of my desk. The string of LEDs are taped behind the decorative wooden piece above my computer monitor.

The switch works like a charm and, as simple as it is, is really one of my more polished completed projects. I hope I can say that for every project moving forward!

Thanks for reading!

Shelf Lighting: A year later

Almost a year ago, I installed white strip lights on a home entertainment unit with a dimmer system that uses an ATmeag328p. Yesterday, we found it wouldn’t power on, so it was time to reopen this time capsule. I like to think of it as a time capsule because it reflects on what I knew a year ago. In this quick post, you’ll see what I mean by that.

IMG_20150214_105906After a few pokes with my multimeter, I found that there was no power getting to the ATmega328p microcontroller. I thought it may have been a problem with the LM7805 regulator so I swapped it out (which is why it’s missing in this picture). That wasn’t it. With a few more pokes from my multimeter, I found it was a problem with the switch. For whatever reason, the switch wouldn’t close between the two pins I was using. The other side still opened and closed fine so I just moved one of the wires over to use that side of the switch.
IMG_20150214_114450While I had the project open, I decided to do a little updating to it. At the time, I was experimenting more with standalone ATmega328p’s so naturally this project ended up being powered by one. It was overkill since the system only uses one PWM output and one analog input. I switched the ATmega328p out for an ATtiny85. You could still say it’s overkill since I could use a 555 timer, but it’s a cleaner and simple solution. I also hot glued some of the connections as a way of insulating them, instead of using electrical tape that sometimes falls away and gets gross after a while. I was considering trying to solder this circuit onto a perfboard, but I’ll leave that for another time.

So that’s the update! I always like revisiting projects where I can make meaningful improvements and optimizations. Thanks for reading!

Desk Lighting Revisited

For a while now, I’ve been wanting to do a revisit to the desk lighting project I did a long while ago. I never used the colored lights along the side and I was never satisfied with the amount of light from the main white LEDs. Sometimes they’d be too bright for something I was watching. I decided to use one of my Attiny85 Breakout boards to have a potentiometer dim the white lights. I removed all of the other lights.
IMG_0708The controller went from this…IMG_20140811_141736…to this. The positioning is a little clumsy at the moment but it’s still smaller than the original board. I soldered the 10K potentiometer to a small piece of perfboard which has wires that connect it to the breakout board (soldered). I wish I had a larger knob potentiometer because it’s a little difficult to turn this one without a screwdriver. It works well enough for me so it’s not a big deal. It took just a couple of minutes to program and get it connected to the existing lights. It’s nice to know that the first PCB working wasn’t just a fluke.IMG_20140811_131146In other news, I was going to make a fume extractor but the carbon filter I ordered on Amazon has mysteriously gone out of stock even though it originally said I ordered the last one. Oh well, the fan by itself is good enough for getting the smoke out of my face. I removed the original wires and connector and soldered a 9v power supply directly to it. What I didn’t think of was that the large 9v power supply has a large wart that covers the remaining plugs on my power bar so I don’t have anywhere to plug in the iron… so the fan is powered by a plug across the room. I guess that’s a perk of having the smallest room in the house.

I have some exciting plans coming up but I’m still working on a few things before I share. Thanks for visiting!